Nelson’s Peace Poles – loud and proud

Although small, blending-in signs are sometimes the right design solution, there are some stories that need to be shouted out loud.

Today as you drive into Nelson from the north you might see, in the distance, three colourful, 5-metre-tall totems that acknowledge the town’s proud associations with peace.

Peace Poles

Peace Poles

These three colourful peace poles,  unveiled on Saturday 23 April, mark the Peace Grove, at the edge of Miyazu Park, a wide, open space near Nelson Haven.

The Peace Grove was originally planted in the 1980s at the request of the Nelson Peace Group but its original location became compromised by a cycle-way.

A new location called for a new place-name sign and it was decided to use this sign to share some of Nelson’s proud peace heritage. Each pole has a narrow, double-sided, flag-style panel.

At the unveiling 23 April

At the unveiling 23 April

“The colours acknowledge the peace rainbow of the 1970s and 80s but do not represent a rainbow. I like that today the rainbow has been adopted by RainbowYOUTH NZ, as peace starts within ourselves,”said designer Janet Bathgate.

Nelson’s peace movement history is active and inspirational. Nelson’s Nayland College declared itself nuclear free in 1982, one of first schools in New Zealand to do so. One year later Nelson City followed this lead, becoming one of the first cities in the world to be nuclear free. The Nelson yacht ‘Sudden Laughter’ waspart of the Mururoa Atoll protests and was supported by many locals, including Nelson College for Boys. In addition to civic leaders and Nelson youth advocating peace, the spiritual group Quakers have a long anti-war history. Nelson was home to New Zealand’s first Quaker Meeting House.

This post is the first in our new category of “show and tell” where we hope members will share their latest projects, ideas and innovations. Send your contributions through to anytime you have something you’d like to brag about!  


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Interpreting the heritage of New Zealand